Maltese bread and jellyfish leave their mark on Duran Duran

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"If you could judge a country's wealth from its bread, Malta would have to be the richest," says Duran Duran's bass guitarist John Taylor, just after the band's concert, which surpassed two hours and had the crowd going wild at the Luxol Ground on Saturday.

Backstage after the show - the last leg of their Red Carpet Massacre European Tour that kicked off in March - the four original members, who have withstood the test of time, were unwinding and enjoying the satisfaction of the feedback they received from their audience.

The English pop rock band, which had made it biggest in the 1980s, attracted a crowd of about 8,500 - not quite what Bryan Adams had seen last year when he performed to the largest-ever rock audience. But numbers are not the issue and the group was impressed by the response and energy of the tight audience, which they wished they could "wrap up and take with them wherever we go".

Discussing the show between them, band and crew said the Malta crowd had outdone their open-air Italy shows, including their penultimate performance in Calabria to 50,000.
It was their older and more familiar tracks that had the audience in a state of euphoria, belting them out at throat-harming pitches and sweating it out to the beat.

Seductive Come Undone - according to Simon Le Bon appropriate for the venue, Malta having struck him as an island of holiday romance - Planet Earth and The Reflex were among the first of the golden oldies to be played, transporting the audience back in time to relive their teenage crushes when Duran Duran reigned supreme.

A carpet of mobile phones, lit simultaneously, enhanced the atmosphere created by the popular Save A Prayer, while the anticipated Wild Boys had the expected effect on the crowd, and the band, despite their age, gave it all they had.

Malta provided a relaxing setting for Duran Duran, which can now enjoy a hard-earned, two-month break, barring a couple of corporate gigs. It was the ideal spot to close off the tour after months of travelling, and Simon Le Bon said on stage that it was hard to drag Nick Rhodes out of the bar to the concert that evening.

The band dined in restaurants in the St Julians area and spent the day on a boat in Blue Lagoon on Friday, where they managed to find a secluded spot away from the crowds - an outing that was only slightly marred when John Taylor was stung by a jellyfish.
Standing stiff after a full-on show that saw Simon Le Bon being what he was when the 1980s afforded him teen-idol status, the singer admitted he was in agony from back pain and had had to lie down, call a doctor and get a Voltaren injection just before hitting the stage.

But hit it he did, and running, looking on form and showing the Wild Boys to be wild as ever and still able to whip up the wildness of the crowd.

He emerged for the Rio encore draped in a Maltese flag that organisers said was requested and had to be procured at the 11th hour.

"Pain is like that," Simon Le Bon, accompanied by his stunning, supermodel wife Yasmin, explained. "It is very much in the mind... You just get overcome by other distractions like being on stage and you forget about it," he said, back in discomfort, the adrenaline rush being over.

Thinking about having to pack his bags the following morning - "I don't travel light and I don't have anyone to do it for me" - John Taylor said he believed Duran Duran was here to stay. "When we turn 60, we'll get a bunch of 20-year-olds to replace us!"

Meanwhile, they have continued to move with the times - their electronic set, with its DJ vide, in the second half of the concert showing their innovative approach, although John Taylor candidly maintained that it should be more interactive and sought feedback on how it went down.

Introspectively stepping back in time, he tries to figure out how and why he got into music and, more specifically, the bass guitar.

"I picked up my guitar to warm up before the concert and I wondered how long I would continue playing it for," he remarked out of the blue on the lonely instrument that is more of an accompaniment, modestly saying that he also dabbles in keyboards and piano and probably gets more pleasure out of those.

"I have a piano with headphones at home so I can play and no one hears me," he said, speaking like an amateur and not the veteran that he is, having been in the music scene since 1978 and tasted years of fame and success.

Courtesy Tims of Malta